This case study was originally posted on our UK blog.
After seeing the results of an EMSI Economic Impact Study conducted in early 2012, Middlesbrough College in North East England realized its need for local labor market information to inform the direction of its strategic planning. Prompted by this need, the college purchased Analyst and Career Coach and have been using them to great effect across the Tees Valley.
Middlesbrough College is the largest provider of post-16 education in the Tees Valley, offering courses in 14 of the 15 subject areas in Further Education, Higher Education, Apprenticeships, and Employer Training to more than 10,000 students every year.
The college has seen great success in training students both for the workforce and for further study. Of the students who applied to a university course following BTEC courses last year, 90% were successful, and EMSI is pleased to have contributed in some small part to Middlesbrough College’s success.
Using Analyst for Strategic Planning
By studying the data available in Analyst, Middlesbrough discovered that jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) were projected to grow significantly in its surrounding region. For example, laboratory technicians are expected to increase by 294 jobs over the next five years in the Tees Valley and warehousing and storage occupations are expected to increase by 1,040 jobs.
Middlesbrough College used this information to successfully apply for a £6.5 million grant from the Skills Funding Agency toward the cost of a £20 million STEM Centre, which will be focused completely on training students in STEM-related occupations. In an interview on ITV Tyne Tees, Zoe Lewis, the newly appointed principal/chief executive at Middlesbrough College, said, “Our duty as the largest provider of skills and training [in the area] is to make sure there isn’t a mismatch between our courses and available jobs.”
But the facilities would be empty without incoming students. In order to communicate the opportunities presented by the new Centre and to introduce the jobs that might arise from its construction, the college turned to EMSI’s Career Coach.
Career Coach Links Courses to Careers
Careers guidance in high schools across the UK can be somewhat of a disappointment. Many schools have severely cut back on staff providing information, advice, and guidance to students who are interested in furthering their education or getting a well-paying job. Careers advice is often limited to a 15-minute presentation in front of the class once a year, and many students have no idea what they would like to study and even more are unaware of the courses available to them.
“Career Coach puts critically important jobs information at everyone’s fingertips and shows students how to get there. It is fantastic!”
Middlesbrough College has addressed this problem by making Career Coach freely available on its website and highlighting the tool within its published course provision both within the full-time and part-time course guides. A full-page spread introducing Career Coach was included in the college’s course guide and 30,000 copies were sent around the region.
As part of the development, Career Coach has also been embedded into the course search facility on the website so that students can better see the link between the courses at Middlesbrough College and the career opportunities that are out there in the broader economy.
One of the clearest benefits of Career Coach is that the tool enables students to spend time exploring their own ideas about their futures and for those students who are unsure, Career Coach provides an opportunity to look at many different career options without pressure to make a decision right away. Career Coach has been incorporated into the College’s official app, which is available to download from its website.
Richard Atkinson, assistant principal at the college, sees this as a key feature of Career Coach. “There are a lot of students out there who are not sure what they want to do,” he said. “Career Coach enables them to check out careers that intrigue them, and do it from home. Essentially, they are doing the research beforehand, so that when they come in for an interview, they have better ideas about what careers they want to look at.”
Career Coach is useful for the college as well, especially when it comes to advising students about which career to pursue. As Atkinson said, “At first, I assumed that Career Coach would be about attracting new students to the college and stressing that link between courses and careers. But our advice and guidance staff have also been able to use it for those currently enrolled. Thanks to the information in Career Coach, students can look at any number of careers and see what jobs are available and what earnings they can expect. Based on this, they may want to change course or progress on to the next year. But at least now they can start making some informed decisions.”
Does it work? Apparently so. Applications at Middlesbrough College are on the increase and while Career Coach is only a part of that success, there is a strong correlation that students are benefitting from strong data-based information, advice, and guidance.
For Zoe Lewis, Career Coach approaches a solution to the constant problem of supply and demand. “We want to drive course decision-making towards local jobs and we want to train our students to fill available and future positions. Career Coach clearly shows the number of local jobs, salary, trends, and all the rest. It puts critically important jobs information at everyone’s fingertips and shows students how to get there. It is fantastic!”
Middlesbrough College continues to find new and effective ways to use EMSI’s services as it provides valuable skills to tomorrow’s workforce and supports its local economy.